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Welton Becket

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Welton Becket
Welton David Becket

(1902-08-08)August 8, 1902
DiedJanuary 16, 1969(1969-01-16) (aged 66)
Alma materUniversity of Washington
PracticeWelton Becket and Associates
DesignCentury City Master Plan

Welton David Becket (August 8, 1902 – January 16, 1969) was an American modern architect who designed many buildings in Los Angeles, California.


Becket was born in Seattle, Washington and graduated from the University of Washington program in Architecture in 1927 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree (B.Arch.).[1]

He moved to Los Angeles in 1933 and formed a partnership with his University of Washington classmate Walter Wurdeman and Angelean architect Charles F. Plummer. Their first major commission was the Pan-Pacific Auditorium in 1935, which won them residential jobs from James Cagney, Robert Montgomery, and other film celebrities. Plummer died in 1939.

The successor firm Wurdeman and Becket went on to design Bullock's Pasadena (1944) and a couple of corporate headquarters. Wurdeman and Becket developed the concept of "total design," whereby their firm would be responsible for master planning, engineering, interiors, furniture, fixtures, landscaping, signage, and even (in the case of restaurants) menus, silverware, matchbooks, and napkins.[2]

The 3,000-seat Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Project Designer Lou Naidorf, opened in 1958.

After Wurdeman's death in 1949, Becket formed Welton Becket and Associates and continued to grow the firm to the extent that it was one of the largest architectural offices in the world by the time of his death in 1969. In 1987, his firm was acquired by Ellerbe Associates, and the merged firm continued as Ellerbe Becket until the end of 2009, when it was acquired by AECOM. It is now known as Ellerbe Becket, an AECOM Company.[3]

Becket's buildings used unusual facade materials such as ceramic tile and stainless steel grillwork, repetitive geometric patterns, and a heavy emphasis on walls clad in natural stone, particularly travertine and flagstone.

With The Walt Disney Company and the United States Steel Corporation, Becket's firm co-designed Disney's Contemporary Resort, which opened in 1971 at Walt Disney World Resort. The Contemporary was designed as a 14-story steel A-frame with a monorail running through the building. Modular guest rooms were assembled, finished, furnished, fully equipped and their doors locked, on the ground, then lifted by crane and inserted into the frame; however, this sometimes took multiple tries.[4]

Welton Becket was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1952.

Becket's sons, Welton MacDonald Becket & Bruce Becket, are also practicing architects, as well as his nephew[5] MacDonald G. Becket and granddaughter Alexandra Becket.[6]


Selected works
Humble Oil Headquarters (1963)
Pomona, California city hall (1969)
33 Washington Street Newark, New Jersey (1971)
Glendale Central Library (1973)

Becket's extensive list of credits includes:[7]


  1. ^ "Welton David Becket , Sr". Pacific Coast Architecture Database. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  2. ^ Timberg, Scott (10 August 2002). "A Toast to a Man Who Left His Imprint on L.A." Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Reynolds, Christopher (6 March 2003). "L.A.'s Invisible Builder". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "WW Goes to WDW at Yesterland.com: An Urban Legend about Disney's Contemporary". www.yesterland.com. Retrieved Jul 29, 2019.
  5. ^ AIA Journal 57-58 (1972), p. 58
  6. ^ Lubell, Sam (Dec 7, 2015). "Inhabiting a Legacy Los Angeles Magazine". Retrieved Jul 29, 2019.
  7. ^ "Welton Becket architectural drawings and photographs, 1913-2009, bulk 1930-1969".
  8. ^ "'Copter Takes Group To Broadway-Valley". Valley Times. October 10, 1955.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "NEWSLETTERS – "Webb Spinner" – Del Webb Sun Cities Museum". delwebbsuncitiesmuseum.org. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  10. ^ "Airport hotel completed". Los Angeles Times. December 23, 1962.
  11. ^ "Hyatt Regency New Orleans, New Orleans | 122830 | EMPORIS". Archived from the original on 2016-03-07.

External links[edit]

Becket's Cinerama Dome, with Shrek 2 decorations.